Vietnamese carmaker Vinfast has stumped up to buy the Lang Lang proving ground.
Vinfast, a Vietnamese start-up owned by one of the Asian country’s richest men, has purchased the iconic Lang Lang proving ground east of Melbourne, once owned by General Motors Holden and the location for local testing and development of many Holden vehicles.
But since GM axed Holden earlier this year, the big US company has been looking to liquidate assets and one of its largest was the 872 hectare (2155 acre) Lang Lang site. Vinfast was a keen suitor and has now finalised the sale, though the purchase price remains unknown. GM has also snagged itself rights to continue using the test track for its Australian GM Special Vehicles brand of cars, including the new Corvette.
Vinfast will also open the site for Holden enthusiasts and tracks days, honouring its heritage, though it remains unclear what native protection overlays may be put in place for the unique flora and fauna at the site. Vinfast doesn’t just own Lang Lang, either, with the fledgeling car company owning a Port Melbourne office just around the corner from the old Salmon Street Holden HQ.
The new owners of the test track out-bid interested buyers, reportedly including Lindsay Fox, owner of the Anglesea Proving Ground. Vinfast plans to develop its Asia-Pacific region cars at the new Lang Lang site.
Its first round of cars will be produced on BMW architecture, the company having purchased rights from the German maker to use its previous generation platform as a base. However, the sheet metal will be all Vinfast’s work. The fast-tracked program is an efficient transition into vehicle production which is slated to happen in Vietnam.
Executives and talent recruited by Vinfast include ex Holden, Ford, and Toyota employees.
GM Holden Interim Chairman and Managing Director Kristian Aquilina confirmed GM Special Vehicle would use the site, according to Holden’s press release, yet admitted it was also the end of an era.
“The Lang Lang Proving Ground will continue to shape the global automotive industry. Over the past five years, GM has invested in the laboratories and tracks at the site, which will now be well utilised by its new owners.
“This deal hits a sweet spot of a fair sale value, a ready-made facility for VinFast’s needs, ongoing employment for departing Holden employees and the preservation of amenity for the community.
“In some ways, it’s the end of an era. We pay tribute to rich automotive history created at the Proving Ground, and the brilliant Holden people who worked there. At the same time, its genuinely pleasing to know there’s a bright future there as well.”
Find more on our Facebook page & Subscribe to our weekly newsletter (it’s free).